Aidanfield is a new suburb in the south-west of Christchurch, New Zealand, about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from the city centre. The land, which had been owned by the Good Shepherd Sisters since 1886 now incorporates the Mount Magdala Institute and the St John of God Chapel, which has a Category I heritage listing by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. The first residents moved into the suburb in 2002. The developer caused controversy in 2007–2008 by applying to have a group of farm buildings demolished to allow for further subdivision.Christchurch City Council was widely criticised for approving the demolition despite the buildings having had a heritage listing in the Christchurch City Plan.
Aidanfield is located between Halswell Road (State Highway 75), Dunbars Road, the Christchurch Southern Motorway, the Canterbury Agricultural Park (home of the Canterbury A&P Show) and Templetons Road.
The centre of Aidanfield is about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Christchurch city centre.
Father Laurence Ginaty established the Mount Magdala Institute in 1886 to provide a home for women and girls. It developed into an institution caring for women recently released from prison, orphans, and “unruly girls”. Numerous buildings were constructed, and at its peak in the 1930s, 500 people lived on the complex. The St John of God Chapel, designed by Sidney and Alfred Luttrell and now listed as a Category I heritage structure by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, was completed in 1912.
The Catholic order owned all the land around Mount Magdala, and decided to develop most of it as a subdivision to provide them with financial support. The Press first reported in mid-2000 on the subdivision plans.
The suburb is named after Mother Aidan Phelan (1858–1958), the Superior at Mount Magdala from 1907 to 1920 and again from 1929 to 1936. Mother Aidan was herself named after the Irish saint Aidan of Lindisfarne. The name Aidanfield was approved on 31 January 2001.
Subdivision development and amenities
The first residents moved into Aidanfield in 2002, and by 2011 some 400 sections had been built on; when the subdivision is fully developed, more than 50 new roads will have been created. The 2006 census reported 1320 residents in the Aidanfield area unit. Statistics New Zealand have estimated the suburb’s 2010 population at 2400 residents.
The subdivision developer caused controversy in 2007 after applying to have four of the five historic Madgala Farm buildings demolished to make way for further subdivision. Although the buildings were protected in the Christchurch City Council District Plan, councillors voted eight to four in favour of granting demolition consent. Staff advice to councillors had been that the “farm buildings in their current form have high regional and moderate national heritage significance and therefore should be considered with the Deans’ farm buildings to be the most significant heritage farm buildings remaining in Christchurch.” The consent was appealed by Environment Canterbury and the Halswell Residents’ Association to the Environment Court, with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a supporting party, but the demolition went ahead.
The Halswell Residential College is a school for boys with learning difficulties, from years 7 to 10. Located on Mount Magdala land, the school had a roll of 74 in 2011 and is decile 2. Since the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, Discovery 1 School and Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti (UPT) have also been using the campus of this school, as they were displaced from the central city. UPT will move to Ilam in 2013, whilst Discovery 1 will remain at the Halswell Residential College.
Aidanfield Christian School is a state-integrated school for years 1 to 10. Also on Mount Magdala land, it had a roll of 169 in 2011 and is decile 7.
There are no shopping facilities in Aidanfield; the nearest shops are in neighbouring Halswell, about 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) away.